Harm Imbrication and Virtualised Violence: Reconceptualising the Harms of Doxxing


This article develops a framework for analysing the harms of doxxing: the practice of publishing personal identifying information about someone on the internet, usually with malicious intent. Doxxing is not just a breach of privacy, nor are its effects limited to first‑order harms to an individual’s bodily integrity. Rather, doxxing increases the spectre of second-order harms to an individual’s security interests. To better understand these harms—and the relationships between them—we draw together the theories of Bhaskar, Deleuze and Levi to develop two concepts: the virtualisation of violence and harm imbrication. The virtualisation of violence captures how, when concretised into structures, the potential for harm can be virtualised through language, writing and digitisation. We show that doxxed information virtualises violence through constituting harm-generating structures and we analyse how the virtual harm-generating potential of these structures is actualised through first- and second-order harms against a doxxing victim. The concept of harm imbrication, by contrast, helps us to analyse the often-imbricated and supervenient relationship between harms. In doing so, it helps us explain the emergent – and supervenient – relationship between doxxing’s first- and second-order harms.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-03-01
Pages:196 to 209
Section:Part 2: Rethinking the Technology-Harm Nexus
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How to Cite
Anderson, B. and Wood, M. A. (2022) “Harm Imbrication and Virtualised Violence: Reconceptualising the Harms of Doxxing”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(1), pp. 196-209. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2140.

Author Biographies

The University of Melbourne

Briony Anderson is a digital criminologist researching doxxing, privacy and anonymity at the University of Melbourne. Her work scaffolds post humanism, the philosophy of information and technology facilitated violence literatures and she has recently published in The British Journal of Criminology and The Emerald International Handbook of Technology-Facilitated Violence and Abuse.

Deakin University

Mark A Wood is a lecturer in criminology at Deakin University. Most of his research concerns digital criminology, technology-facilitated violence, and the technology-harm nexus. He is the author of Antisocial Media: Crime-watching in the Internet Age (2017, Palgrave) and the co-author (with Imogen Richards and Mary Iliadis) of Criminologists in the Media: A Study of Newsmaking (2022, Routledge).